Page 1285 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017
He then called for more country towns to write submissions to the Senate inquiry into the APVMA move in order to pitch for their own departmental moves. And he has claimed that there are more such moves to come. For example, earlier this month, he claimed that he would like to see the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Services move workers to country towns. Other than the Department of Defence, these are the two largest departments in Canberra. Taking an axe to them would devastate our local economy.
This is a minister who really has form when it comes to trashing Canberra in not just actions, but words. Just yesterday, he saw fit to call the ACT government “crazy” and “insane” for its renewable energy target. I really fear for Canberra residents, should the rumours about reshuffling Minister Joyce to the federal infrastructure portfolio hold truth.
Where was Senator Seselja in all this? This move has been discussed for years, but he did not come out against it until long after the horse had bolted; indeed, long after any sort of influence that he had in the party room had dissipated. By the time he was prepared to make any comments, it was far too late. Even when the senator spoke up, it was to oppose the move on the grounds of government efficiency and productivity, and not the compassionate plea that we expect of our ACT senators on behalf of electors’ livelihoods. Talk about using kid gloves.
This attitude from the federal government has had real demonstrable effects on Canberra and the quality of the public service. Families have had no choice but to either leave the jobs and professional security they rightly took for granted or the communities that their friends and family all live in. Indeed, the APVMA move does not just affect public servants. During the election campaign I heard of the plight of many families that I spoke to—elderly parents who have moved to Canberra in order to help look after their grandkids and be near their children in times of their own need. This affects whole families and whole communities here in the ACT.
The public service cuts also have devastating repercussions on town centres and business confidence in those local communities. Apart from the effects the environment department and DVA cuts have had on Woden, the threat of moving the department of immigration from Belconnen and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs out of Tuggeranong—now known as the Department of Social Services— causes economic uncertainty.
At 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
MR STEEL: Beyond the detrimental impacts it has on our city, undermining the public service can only result in poorer policy formation and substandard service delivery.
There is a compounding effect of having departments in such close proximity to each other. It encourages knowledge exchange and cross-pollination of ideas, as opposed to